Study Finds Trees Are Good for Your Heart


If you want to get a number of benefits out of one health tip, try this: Go plant yourself a tree. Recent science shows that living among trees makes people feel subjectively healthierreduces pollutionboosts mental health—and may also be good for heart health, according to new research. 

A study in the journal Health and Place found that a lack of trees might be a risk to women’s cardiovascular health. The study analyzed health statistics in places where an invasive pest, the emerald ash borer, had decimated the local tree population. The beetle was first discovered to be killing Michigan ash trees in 2002, and has since spread to other states, encompassing 245 U.S. counties in total. 

Using longitudinal data from the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers led by the USDA Forest Service, examined links between tree loss and the cardiovascular events for the 156,000 women in the initiative’s data pool. More than 14,500 post-menopausal women in the sample suffered a heart attack or stroke or died from coronary heart disease during the study period of 1991 to 2010.

The researchers found that even accounting for factors like exercise frequency, women who lived in a county where the emerald ash borer moved in and started killing trees had a 25 percent increased risk of heart disease. 

This study can’t prove without a doubt that living without trees causes heart attacks (maybe some other unexamined environmental factor upped the risk of heart attacks during those years). And it didn’t sample men, about one in four of whom will die of heart disease. However, given the wealth of other studies indicating that trees benefit your health, it wouldn’t be surprising if they also keep your heart healthy, especially because of their stress-reducing effects.

[h/t: Pacific Standard]

New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The 10 Most Affordable Cities for Living Abroad

Picking up your life and moving abroad is expensive, but just how expensive depends on where you choose to make your new home. Mercer's latest Cost of Living Survey reported by Travel + Leisure lays out which cities around the world are most affordable for expats, and which are the priciest.

For the report, Mercer compared more than 375 cities across over 200 metrics including cost of food, coffee, clothing, housing, gas, and public transportation. If you want to live abroad, the cheapest city to move to is Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It's followed by Tunis, Tunisia in second place and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in third.

The Cost of Living Survey also looked at the least affordable destinations for expats. Hong Kong is the most expensive, with Tokyo, Japan at No. 2 and Zurich, Switzerland ranking No. 3. Cities in Asia account for six of the top 10.

If you can afford it, there are plenty of reasons to spend time living outside your home country: Research has found that people who live abroad exhibit increased creativity, communication skills, and even earning potential. When planning your next long-term trip, consider these budget-friendly destinations.

1. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
2. Tunis, Tunisia
3. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
4. Banjul, The Gambia
5. Karachi, Pakistan
6. Blantyre, Malawi
7. Tbilisi, Georgia
8. Minsk, Belarus
9. Tegucigalpa, Honduras
10. Managua, Nicaragua

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


More from mental floss studios